A Television Addict’s Guide to the Emmys: Outstanding Series
Tonight is the 70th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards which means two very important things: some of the best TV of the year will be honored—some but definitely not all—and I’ll spend seven hours writing a piece that one person will read. So if you’re that one person hope you enjoy it.
Television is king right now. Shows like Game of Thrones and Stranger Things feel more important to popular culture than any movie, even the MCU giants. And more and more established artists are making TV. The same artists that not too long ago would have felt like making the move to the small screen was a step down. I still mourn the demise of Steven Soderbergh and Clive Owen’s masterpiece The Knick. And with so many creative and diverse voices in television the Emmys are in a great place to celebrate them. Which makes the complete disservice that the Emmys make year after year all the more disappointing. At least they stopped nominating Modern Family, the small miracles.
Outstanding Comedy Series
- Atlanta (FX)
- Barry (HBO)
- Black-ish (ABC)
- Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
- GLOW (Netflix)
- The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)
- Silicon Valley (HBO)
- Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
Comedy has become an amorphous catchall category especially in recent years. It used to be easy to distinguish between comedies and dramas; comedies were the ones that lasted 21 minutes and would pipe in laughter, so you wouldn’t miss when they made a funny joke and dramas were the ones with cops in them. Now, thankfully, we’ve left those days far behind. I suppose technically Barry and Atlanta are more comedy than drama, but it also feels weird to have them in the same category as Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Black-ish. The safe bet for probable winners tonight are Atlanta and Barry, partly because these two shows are least traditionally “comical” Atlanta dropped a 41-minute horror short film in the middle of this season and Barry is the best exploration of PTSD we’ve had in popular culture since the first season of Jessica Jones. But the beauty of Atlanta and Barry is that as serious as they can get they’re probably still two of the funniest shows on this list. I still think Atlanta is the best thing on TV so I would love to see Glover and crew go home with the first award as a show after a confusing decision last year. But I would say either Barry or Mrs. Maisel were worthy winners. I’m just worried that a weak returning season of Curb Your Enthusiasm will take the award on name recognition alone.
Outstanding Drama Series
- The Americans (FX)
- The Crown (Netflix)
- Game of Thrones (HBO)
- The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
- Stranger Things (Netflix)
- This Is Us (NBC)
- Westworld (HBO)
While the comedy category is a fair, if not complete, representation of what the best comedies on TV in the past year were. The drama category is a confusing mess. With shows essentially being grandfathered in to a nomination spot and completely ignoring the merit of this past season. Why the Academy of Television Arts & Science bent over backward to give nominations to Westworld season 2 and The Handmaid’s Tale’s second season despite being outside of the eligibility range I do not understand. Westworld is the more confusing of the two because it has never been good. Popular, no doubt, it is HBOs biggest hit since Game of Thrones but popularity never really seemed much a factor before or else we would be looking at nomination lists consisting of names like The Walking Dead, Big Bang Theory, The Goo Doctor (Really? Why?), Young Sheldon, and Empire. And thankfully we are not but so if it’s not a popularity contest why this show? If it’s just the HBO brand behind it, The Deuce is a much more deserving nominee than Westworld not to mention all the other shows far better than both of them. The Handmaid’s Tale in its second season remains as unenjoyable to watch as its smash hit first season but with little payoff this time around. Not only was its disappointing second season nominated, Vegas odds have it at an wide favorite to win the award. By far the best show in this list is The Americans but that’s not saying much in a category with six of seven nominees I would switch out.
Outstanding Limited Series
- The Alienist (TNT)
- The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story (FX)
- Genius: Picasso (Nat Geo)
- Godless (Netflix)
- Patrick Melrose (Showtime)
Huh? The Alienist? Genius: Picasso? You know that saying about monkeys with typewriters and Shakespeare? Well if you had given me an infinite amount of guesses at the nomination list this year I would have never ever come up with these five names. Partly because that is how improbable this list of shows is and partly because I literally forgot The Alienist as a show the moment its second episode ended which feels as though it was a million years ago but was actually only back on January 29th. I suppose it must be the Netflix money that got it here because they bought the international distribution rights from TNT–you know that network known for such shows you’ve definitely heard of like: Animal Kingdom, Claws, Good Behavior, Happy Hunting, The Last Ship, and Will (I made one of those up and you have no idea which one it is). Of these five limited series I don’t think it’s a stretch to say three of them are objectively bad and I’m not even that in love with Godless. Patrick Melrose not running away with every award in this category would be near criminal—not as criminal as nominating The Assassination of Gianni Versace over A Very English Scandal or the aggressively dull Picasso over Fargo or Howard’s End but criminal nonetheless.
[…] An interesting quirk that Jeff Daniels gets nominated for The Looming Tower here but it was Godless instead of The Looming Tower that was recognized for Outstanding Limited Series. I don’t need to lambast this sad selection of shows, I already did that previously in this piece. […]